Archive of July 15, 2008

Two Chinese priests missing after being detained by government officials in May

Stamford, Conn., Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - As the Beijing Olympic Games approach, two priests who tried to attend services for the World Day of Prayer for China on May 24 are still missing after having been detained by the Chinese government.

Pope Benedict XVI had announced the day of prayer for May 24, the Feast of Our Lady of Sheshan. Thousands of Chinese pilgrims made a pilgrimage to Sheshan for the event, most of whom doing so with the approval of the Chinese government.

Those who did not have government approval risked arrest and detention.

All of the underground clergy for the Diocese of Shanghai were placed
under house arrest during May to prevent them from making the pilgrimage, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reports. Other underground Catholics were warned not to visit Sheshan on May 24.

The Catholic Church in China is split into two different groups: the official communist-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and an “underground” Church which remains loyal to the Pope. Efforts to reconcile the two factions have increased under Pope Benedict XVI’s reign and have been amplified by his letter to the Church in China, issued in June of 2007.

Two underground priests from the Xuanhua district in the province of Hebei were among the pilgrims that fell victim to the state’s efforts to control the pilgrimage.

Father Zhang Jianlin, 42, was intercepted by Chinese authorities in Nanking on his way to Sheshan for the May 24 event. He was sent back to Xuanhua, where he was arrested and detained.

Another priest, the 45-year-old Father Zhangli, was arrested and detained a few days before May 24 to prevent his trip to Sheshan.

Both priests disappeared while in the custody of Chinese authorities. The Cardinal Kung Foundation says it has no knowledge of their status or location.

According to Reuters, police and government offices in Xuanhua District refused to answer questions about the priests or said they had no knowledge of the case. "Nobody would be detained unless they were suspected of violating the law," said an officer from the district public security office who refused to give her name.

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Pope welcomes World Youth Day pilgrims in video message

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in his video message to World Youth Day pilgrims shortly before the commencement of the event, said he looked forward to the upcoming opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from around the world. Saying that the goals truly worth living for are found in Jesus Christ, he asked for prayers for the success of his mission and for the spiritual growth of World Youth Day pilgrims during their time in Australia, which he called the great “southern land of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope thanked the Australian government and the government of New South Wales, the organizers of World Youth Day, and the event’s sponsors. He further expressed gratitude to those who are hosting pilgrims.

“Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly,” he noted. “The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.”

Referencing the theme of World Youth Day, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8), Pope Benedict said:

“How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts.

“It is my firm belief,” he continued, “that young people are called to be instruments of that renewal, communicating to their peers the joy they have experienced through knowing and following Christ, and sharing with others the love that the Spirit pours into their hearts, so that they too will be filled with hope and with thanksgiving for all the good things they have received from our heavenly Father.”

Pope Benedict said that many modern young people lack hope, being perplexed by the questions of a confusing world.

“They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions,” he explained. “They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond. They see great damage done to the natural environment through human greed and they struggle to find ways to live in greater harmony with nature and with one another.”

The answers to these challenges, the Pope said, are found when “the Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ.”

“In Him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the goals that are truly worth living for, we find the strength to pursue the path that will bring about a better world.”

He then described his hopes and prayers for World Youth Day:

“My prayer is that the hearts of the young people who gather in Sydney for the celebration of World Youth Day will truly find rest in the Lord, and that they will be filled with joy and fervor for spreading the Good News among their friends, their families, and all whom they meet.”

Asking for prayers in support of his mission, Pope Benedict repeated his invitation to young people to join him in Australia.

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Religious voters favor McCain, poll claims

Princeton, N.J., Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - A new Gallup Poll claims to show that registered voters who say religion is important in their lives tend to support presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain by a margin of 50 to 40 percent, while those who say religion is unimportant to their lives tend to support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama by a margin of 55 to 36 percent.

About two-thirds of the registered voters surveyed by Gallup said that religion is important to them.

According to the Gallup Poll, which surveyed 95,000 registered voters from March through June 2008, the divide in voting preference is not confined to white Protestants but is manifested among non-Hispanic white Catholics as well.

Non-Hispanic white Catholics who say religion is important in their daily lives support McCain over Obama by 53 percent to 37 percent. Those who say religion is not important slightly favor Obama by a margin of 47 percent to 45 percent.

Hispanic Catholics, black non-Catholic Christians, and those who do not have a specific religious identity reportedly tend to support Barack Obama, but their support apparently is little affected by the importance of religion in their lives.

Hispanic Catholics who say religion is important in their lives support Obama over McCain 57 to 31, while those who say religion is not important support Obama by a margin of 63 to 30 percent.

Among non-Catholic Christians, those who say religion is important in their daily lives support McCain 63 percent to Obama’s 27 percent.
Those who say religion is not important are split between the candidates, with 46 percent support McCain and 45 percent supporting Obama.

About 12 percent of Americans who say they have no specific religious identity strongly support Obama. Those among this group who say religion is not important in their lives support Obama over McCain by a margin of 65 to 26 percent.

Among those with no specific religious identity who say religion is important in their lives, Obama wins by a margin of 61 to 28 percent, according to Gallup.

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Pilgrims to find answers to the questions of the heart at WYD's Life and Love Site

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Forty five Sisters of Life have arrived in Sydney, Australia to host the Love and Life site at the Notre Dame University in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus and the John Paul II Institute.

They are here to minister to the youth who are seeking answers to the hot button issues that many young Catholics have questions about, Sr. Mary Elizabeth told a press conference today.

“Everyone knows what the Church teaches, but very few people know why the Church teaches what she teaches.”

“We really want to invite Catholic youth into the vision of the human person that the Church proposes, which is the vision … that we are made for something great, and something more.”

Around 20,000 young people are expected to come through the Life and Love site to listen to teachings by internationally renown speakers about the dignity of the human person and to pray with the sisters.

“We expect many young women to discover their vocation, whether it be in a life of marriage or to follow the radical call to religious life in their World Youth Day experience,” said Sr. Mary Elizabeth.

Sr. John Mary revealed that she received affirmation of her vocation at a previous World Youth Day pilgrimage, and said that nearly half of their sisters in formation also received a similar call to vocation in World Youth Day experiences. 

They have set up a blog to allow Catholics across the world to keep updated about their activities in World Youth Day and to download the daily talks. For more information visit

The Sisters of Life have 58 sisters, and 6 convents in locations across the United States and Canada.

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World Mission Day: All must play a role in spreading the Gospel, Pope proclaims

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father’s message for the 82nd World Mission Day was released this past Saturday.  In it, Pope Benedict emphasizes the need to proclaim the Gospel while identifying the Pauline Year as “an opportunity” to spread the Good News “unto the ends of the earth.”

The 82nd World Mission Day will be celebrated on October 19, 2008.  In the Pope’s address, he explains that the current international situations of violence, poverty, discrimination, persecution, environmental concerns, and attacks on human life reveal that “humanity is suffering, it awaits true liberty, it awaits a new and better world, it awaits ‘redemption’.”

"Is there hope for the future?  Or rather, is there a future for humanity?”  The Holy Father asks.  For those who believe in Christ, “the answer to these questions comes from the Gospel…Christ is our future.” 

This is a teaching that St. Paul understood when he proclaimed that “only in Christ can humanity find redemption and hope."

“For the love of Christ,” St. Paul "tramped the roads of the Roman empire as herald, apostle, announcer and master of the Gospel, of which he proclaimed himself to be 'an ambassador in chains'," the Pope writes.

Similarly, "only from this source can we draw the concentration, the tenderness, the compassion, the openness, the readiness, the concern for the problems of people, and those other virtues that messengers of the Gospel need in order to leave everything and devote themselves completely and unconditionally to spreading the perfume of Christ's charity in the world."

Though the Church may appear to be facing trying times, “such difficulties as a shortage of priests and a lack of vocations, Christ's mandate to evangelize all people remains a priority," Pope Benedict writes.

"Let us cast out our nets without fear, trusting in His constant help.”  Like St. Paul, we “are called to reach out to those who are far off and who do not yet know Christ," he writes, noting that Church leaders have the duty of "willingly contributing, each according to his capacities, in sending priests and lay people to other Churches for the service of evangelization."

The Holy Father encourages all the faithful to participate in the Church’s call to evangelize.  He asks priests "to be generous pastors and enthusiastic evangelizers,” expressing the hope that "this missionary commitment in local Churches does not diminish despite the lack of priests."

Addressing the consecrated religious, the Pontiff exhorts them to carry “the announcement of the Gospel to everyone, especially to those furthest away, by a coherent witness in Christ and a radical adherence to the Gospel.”

The Holy Father also calls on lay people to evangelize: “You too, dear lay people, are called to play an ever more important role in spreading the Gospel."

He concludes his message noting the importance of prayer.  “Finally, may Christians intensify their prayers, the indispensable spiritual means for spreading the light of Christ among all peoples, 'the true light' that illuminates 'all the shadows of history’.”

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Cardinal Pell celebrates World Youth Day Opening Mass with over 140,000 people

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd greeted pilgrims prior to the Mass, in several different languages. “You are here for this great celebration of life, this great celebration of faith and this great celebration of hope," said the Australian Prime Minister. "For this you are so much the light of the world at a time when the world has so much darkness."

Cardinal Pell presided over the opening Mass, which was the largest Mass to be hosted in Australia’s history, with 26 Cardinals, 400 bishops and approximately 4,000 priests.

In his homily Cardinal Pell called all to listen to Christ’s message saying, “Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community.”

The Cardinal’s words are particularly relevant in Australia, where nearly one-third of its population does not identify with any religion. 

Given this dearth of religion, Australia's top clergyman emphasized the opportunity for reform and reiterated the Pope’s message of hope.“While there is life there is always the option of hope and with Christian hope come faith and love.” “Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of suprises to act through us.”

“We must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further,” said Cardinal Pell.

The congregation was awash with a sea of international pilgrims waving flags from over 170 countries.

Whilst traditional rituals were observed, the Mass was an exhibition of international collaboration, reflecting the global influence of the Catholic faith.

The first reading was read in Spanish, the second reading in French, the gospel acclamation was accompanied by youth from the Torres Strait Islands in the Pacific, and the Gospel was read in Italian. Each prayer of the faithful was also prayed in German, Sudanese, Polish, Vietnamese, Arabic as well as English.

As night covered the city of Sydney, a solemn air of reverence permeated the crowd as Communion was distributed by scores of Eucharistic ministers also all wearing their distinctive national attire.

Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, delivered a message to the youth before the Mass ended, where he directly invited the pilgrims to rediscover the importance of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

“Your presence here has brought spring-time to Australia’s winter. You are the spring-time of the world and the Church,” he told the pilgrims.

The Mass ended with the World Youth Day 2008 hymn “Receive the Power,” sang with enthusiasm by the pilgrims present and lead by the 80 piece orchestra and 300 person WYD08 choir.

“It was amazing to see so many people coming together to worship God,” said Jake, an American pilgrim from Colarado.

“Unbelievable,” said Chris Suarez, a local pilgrim from Sydney. “A Mass of this magnitude within the heart of Sydney, just breath-taking.”

“The Mass was very emotive and vibrant,” said Magdalena, from Chile. “This was a wonderful welcome to begin the World Youth Day activities.”

The Opening Mass was followed by an outdoor concert with performances from popular local and international bands and artists.

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Spanish bishop leads five day walk for WYD

Madrid, Spain, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Carlos Lopez Hernandez of Salamanca in Spain has begun a five-day pilgrimage on foot from Salamanca to the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela where together with young people he will celebrate World Youth Day in solidarity with the young people in Australia.

The young people from Salamanca will meet up in Santiago with 120 youths from other dioceses in Spain.  They hope to arrive at the tomb of St. James on July 18th at noon to participate in activities with the other young people.  They will conclude their pilgrimage with a satellite hookup to follow the closing Mass at WYD in Sydney, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Brazilian law would prohibit Christian teaching on homosexuality

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - The Brazilian Senate is considering a bill approved unanimously and without debate by the country’s House of Representatives that aims to promote homosexuality and prohibit Christian teaching on the issue, under the guise of combating discrimination. 

According to the Association of the Defense of Life, the bill would make it crime punishable by five years in prison to impede expressions of “homosexual affection” in public places or private places open to the public.

It would also punish those who deny employment to openly homosexual teachers in schools with up to three years imprisonment, making it impossible for Catholic or Christian schools to prevent homosexuals from joining their faculties.

The bill would impose prison sentences on any kind of moral, ethical, philosophical or psychological expression that questions homosexual practices. In this way, “a priest, a pastor, a teacher or even an average citizen who says in a sermon, a classroom or public conversation that homosexual acts are sinful, disordered or an illness could be denounced and detained,” the association said.

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Holy Father sends first text message WYD participants

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Tuesday morning the Holy Father sent his first text message to thousands of World Youth Day supporters across Australia.

The message, sent at 10 a.m. local time in Sydney, read:

"Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."

According to the Australian communications company, Telstra, the Pope will send daily messages to those who subscribe to the service.

Additionally, the company has built base stations around Sydney to allow WYD participants to contact family and friends, during the papal event.

Telstra customers can subscribe to the Pope’s free daily messages by texting the word, “Pope” to 0400 405 111.

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Cardinal Pell tells young pilgrims to ‘be open to the power of the Holy Spirit’

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - During the opening Mass for World Youth Day on Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia reminded the youth in his homily, to be open to the Holy Spirit and willing to “take the next step” to follow Christ.

The prelate opened the homily by welcoming the excited, young pilgrims, but especially those suffering and in need of Christ’s healing grace.

“I begin by welcoming and encouraging anyone, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.”

“Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come to him for healing, as he has for two thousand years. The causes of the wounds are quite secondary, whether they be drugs or alcohol, family breakups, the lusts of the flesh, loneliness or a death. Perhaps even the emptiness of success.”

He continued by emphasizing the importance of reaching out to those who do not turn to Christ in times of need.  “Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just to Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community,” he said.

Cardinal Pell then reflected on the Mass’ readings saying that all members of the faithful must believe in the power of God to convert the hearts of people in the world today. 

The Holy Spirit can move us from evil to good

“Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots, but we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope.”

He explained that this is heartening “because we know the power of God’s forgiveness, the capacity of Christ and the Catholic tradition to cause new life to flourish even in unlikely circumstances.”

He also encouraged the faithful to be willing to grow in holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Human motivation is complex and mysterious, because sometimes very strong Catholics, and other strong Christians, can be prayerful and regularly good, but also very determined not to take even one further step. On the other hand, some followers of Christ can be much less zealous and faithful, but open to development, to change for the better because they realize their unworthiness and their ignorance. Where do you stand?”

“Whatever our situation we must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further. If we take God’s hand, He will do the rest. Trust is the key. God will not fail us.”

The cardinal also stressed that each Catholic must “declare himself in the age-old struggle between good and evil…It is not good enough to be only a passenger, to try to live in ‘no-mans land’ between the warring parties. Life forces us to choose, eventually destroys any possibility of neutrality.”

The choice isn’t a simple one, said the cardinal. “Following Christ is not cost free, not always easy, because it requires struggling against what St. Paul calls “the flesh,” our fat relentless egos, old fashioned selfishness. It is always a battle, even for old people like me!”

Commitment brings fulfillment

He encouraged the youth not to sit on the fence, “keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfillment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days.”

“I expect that in the next five days of prayer and celebration that your spirits will rise, as mine always does, in the excitement of this World Youth Day. Please God we shall all be glad that we participated, despite the cost, hassles and distances traveled. During this week we have every right to rejoice and celebrate the liberation of our repentance, the rejuvenation of our faith. We are called to open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. And to the young ones I give a gentle reminder that in your enthusiasm and excitement you do not forget to listen and pray!”

The cardinal concluded by forewarning the young pilgrims that the World Youth Day celebrations would quickly pass and they would soon return to their normal routine. 

“Briefly we are now here in Sydney at the center of the Catholic world, but next week the Holy Father will return to Rome, we Sydneysiders will return to our parishes, while you, now visiting pilgrims, will go back to your homes in places near and far.”

“But when we part after these happy days, let us never part from our loving God and his Son Jesus Christ. And may Mary, Mother of God, whom we invoke in this World Youth Day as Our Lady of the Southern Cross, strengthen us in this resolution.”

For the full text of Cardinal Pell’s homily, please click here or visit

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Spanish military archbishop: The Church is close to those who fight for peace

Madrid, Spain, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - The new Archbishop of the Military in Spain, Archbishop Juan del Rio, said this week the armed forces play an important role in society and that the Church “cannot cease from accompanying those who are committed to the cause of peace.”

In an interview with the magazine Alfa y Omega, the archbishop told those who do not understand the relationship between the Church and the military that they have been carried away by ignorance and a simplistic and disingenuous vision of the true role the military has in society for the promotion of peace and living together in freedom. 

“The Church cannot cease from accompanying those who are committed to the cause of peace, especially when they themselves experience the very suffering they are trying to prevent for us and for entire peoples,” he told the magazine.
As the archbishop of the military archdiocese, he said, his flock includes a slice of the nation that is “accustomed to the practice of the important human virtues of patriotism, loyalty, discipline, industriousness, generosity and commitment.”

Asked about proposals to suspend the military chaplaincy, Archbishop del Rio said those who are making them are the same ones who want to “exclude the Catholic religion from the public sphere.  The presence of the Church in the military constitutes an important contribution to military believers, giving religious meaning to their commitment and service.” 

He also pointed out that those who call for suppressing the chaplaincy, in addition to depriving soldiers of their right to religious freedom, “are ignorant of the important work that chaplains carry out, and they are depriving the members of the armed forces of the help and spiritual encouragement that are so necessary in their vocation, especially in times of pain and suffering.”

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Cardinal Rivera says every priest is an exorcist

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said during a pastoral visit to the parish of San Pedro Cuajimalpa that every priest is an exorcist because of his priestly ministry and is called to exercise the service of expelling the Evil One especially through the Sacrament of Confession.

The parish of San Pedro is known for the “healing” ministry of its current pastor, Father Jose Jil, as well as that of its former pastor, Father Pedro Pantoja.

“Every priest is called to fight against evil in his midst, not only through his example and council, but also through his own office: that of exorcist,” said Cardinal Rivera.

Cardinal Rivera said that when he became Bishop of Tehuacan, he did not see the need for a “healing” ministry in that diocese. But when he came to Mexico City he realized there was a need to directly combat the action of the devil in the faithful, “whose wounds, more than psychological, are of a moral order due to the serious contamination of human values.”

He revealed that this experience led him to dedicate a priest in each of the eight regions of the most populous archdiocese in the world to the work of exorcism through “prayer, healing and liberation, to help the faithful who are under the control of evil.”

Cardinal Rivera recalled that the priest’s greatest act of liberation from evil lies in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

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Cardinal Urosa urges that death of university student not go unpunished

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, deplored the death of Douglas Rojas Jimenez, a college student who was killed during a student protest in Merida, and has asked officials to punish those responsible for the crime.

During a Mass celebrated at the Central University of Venezuela, Cardinal Urosa called on police to “enforce the law to prevent excesses and that acts such as the killing of this student do not happen again.” Rojas Jimenez died 48 hours after being shot during a student protest near the University of the Andes in the city of Merida.

“We deplore this act of violence and we lift our prayers to the Lord for the eternal repose of this young student, who was full of life and hope for building a better world. We ask that those guilty of this crime be duly punished according to the law,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Urosa also encouraged Catholics to strive for holiness by living according to God’s commandments, “which are summarized in this one: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and your neighbor as yourself.”

“Each Christian, in his own state of life and social condition, whether in the world of politics, academia, or economics, has the obligation to work for a better world,” he said

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Church hopes joy of pilgrims will win over ‘cranky’ WYD protesters

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - A Sydney court has overturned a law that would prevent protesters from “annoying” pilgrims at World Youth Day, ruling that it limited free speech. Bishop Anthony Fischer, who is in charge of facilitating the youth event, has suggested the overruling of the law would reduce the interest of those who were “cranky” with World Youth Day, saying such protestors will be overcome by the joy of pilgrims.

The New South Wales law had threatened fines of up to $5,500 against anyone causing “annoyance” to pilgrims at the massive Catholic event.

Activists said they plan to hold a rally on Saturday to demonstrate against the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and contraception. They say they will wear “provocative” T-shirts and hand out condoms.

Immediately following the decision Rachel Evans, one of the two protesters from the “No to Pope” group who took the case to court, started handing out condoms to pilgrims while wearing a shirt that read “The Pope is wrong, put a condom on,” according to the Times Online.

The Catholic Church had no comment on the decision and the New South Wales government said it would not appeal.

World Youth Day Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher suggested that the ruling would reduce interest in the weekend protest “because they won’t be protesting against the laws any more.”

“Even people who have been a bit cranky with World Youth Day… will be swept along by the beauty and joy of these young people and they’ll just want to be part of that,” Bishop Fisher said.

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Denver archbishop teaches WYD pilgrims about listening to the Holy Spirit

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke to World Youth Day participants in a teaching session titled, “Called to live in the Holy Spirit” on Wednesday morning. During his address he explained the importance of listening to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in today’s ‘violent’ world.

Archbishop Chaput of Denver began his catechesis on the Holy Spirit by asking the young pilgrims to reflect on the Holy Spirit, who is described in the Creed as “The giver of Life!”

“What do we thirst for more than anything else in the world?  Life.  We want as much life as we can get.  We want a long life, a happy life, a healthy life.  Everything we hope for is somehow summarized in that powerful word, ‘life’,” the archbishop said.

“So if the Holy Spirit is the giver of life, it means He’s the one that brings us to a full understanding and union with the real Jesus Christ -- not with the ‘nice guy’ or interesting teacher that the world would prefer Jesus to be, but the true Jesus Christ who is the only Son of the Father, the Savior of the world, and the source of all life and happiness for you, for me and for all humanity.”

The Holy Spirit as a dove?

The archbishop went on to explain that usually, in Catholic imagery, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove.  “But have you ever wondered, Why a dove?  Maybe one of the reasons is that there’s nothing threatening about a dove.  A dove typically embodies purity, beauty and gentleness. The kindness of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives is exactly the opposite of the violence that the world and the devil rely on.”

However, this violence “isn’t always bloody.  Some things can feel very pleasant but leave a deep wound that we only discover much later.” 

The archbishop went on to say that every day, all people – including the faithful, “drink in a river of bad ideas pushed by marketers who want your money, your approval and your conformity -- and they make very sure they get it by using the radio, television, internet, popular songs and peer pressure to wrap you up in, like a spider getting ready for dinner.  Today’s popular culture is based on a message that seems liberating, but it actually diminishes your humanity. …In a nutshell, the modern world suggests that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  If someone else suffers as a consequence, if some damage is unintentionally done to other people by your actions, well, that’s not your fault.”

The archbishop then spoke of the irony of when some young people criticize authority “claiming they want to be ‘free’ or that they want to ‘live their own lives,” but then dress exactly “the same way, listen to the same music, follow the same fashions and generally behave not like social reformers, but like lemmings.”

“It’s the worst kind of slavery,” he continued, “when corporations and fashion designers and political opinion makers treat people like chumps.  They trick a whole generation into doing what the world demands, while at the same time telling young people that they’re ‘free,’ ‘original’ and even ‘revolutionary’.”

In contrast, “God acts in a completely different way. That’s why the Holy Spirit is shown as a dove:  He reveals to us the truth, helps us understand who Jesus really is, and calls us to a radically new life in Christ.  But He never forces us or deceives us into doing anything we don't willingly choose to do. That’s real freedom: when we choose, against our shortcomings and temptations from the world, to live the true life brought to us by Jesus Christ.”

“In an age when our minds are soaked by so many distractions, it’s not easy to experience the Holy Spirit and his action in our lives,” Archbishop Chaput observed.

He called to mind what “the great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, wrote about the Holy Spirit: ‘Do not be worried or surprised if you find the Holy Spirit rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two persons [of the Trinity]. In the Christian life you are not usually looking at [the Holy Spirit]: He is always acting through you. If you think of the Father as someone in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as someone inside you’.”

Living a Christian Life

The archbishop went on to describe a life marked by the virtues of the Holy Spirit: “a life that is pure, devout, chaste, generous to the poor and to those in need, courageous in protecting the human person from the moment of conception to natural death.  And you’re asked in a special way to be generous to God, being ready to leave everything behind and follow His calling, be it to priestly, consecrated or married life.”

“This isn’t an easy task. And you know that too, of course. But the good news is that God also knows that it can be difficult, and so He has sent us his Holy Spirit, our Friend, our Comforter and our Counselor.”

“The Holy Spirit is the one who brings us ‘rest and relief’ in the midst of our toils; the one who provides ‘rest and ease’ in our struggle with the anxieties of every age, especially this age which is our own, so filled with hopes and fears.  The Holy Spirit is the one who brings consolation when our hearts grieve, and when we’re tempted to despair.”

In conclusion, Archbishop Chaput told the young pilgrims that with the gift of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t matter how insurmountable the challenge may appear.  “God is stronger, Love is stronger.  Grace is stronger. So, like every generation of Christians before us, and even in the midst of this difficult age, we have every reason to take joy in the phrase that Pope John Paul turned into his motto: ‘Be not afraid!’”

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